RCP appoints Patricia Wright as chief executive, Thornton criticises the NHS management, NMC to vote on revalidation, and the rest of today’s news and comment

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4:23pm: Royal College of Midwives has responded to Nursing & Midwifery Council’s midwife revalidation plans.

Chief executive Cathy Warwick said: “The RCM is pleased to have been involved in discussions on this issue. There is no doubt that It is essential for public safety that midwives are competent and safe practitioners, and the public should rightly expect health professionals to show they are up to date on their practice. 

“It is worth noting that midwives already have an annual assessment of their competence through statutory supervision by supervisors of midwives.  Supervision plays a pivotal role in the governance of midwifery practice by ensuring standards meet those required by the NMC. Women can already take their concerns to supervisors of midwives to discuss any aspects of care they feel has not been addressed through other channels.

“However, we do support these proposals but any method of validation must be proportionate and cost effective.  The NHS and NMC will have to invest heavily in managerial skills and protected time for midwives if this new system is to work.

“The RCM wants to see appraisal, which is part of midwives’ UK wide terms and conditions, work, but if this is to be the basis of revalidation it will need to be delivered uniformly across the NHS.

“The proposals appear to suggest a three yearly enhanced form of appraisal, but the issue is that currently a significant proportion of midwives do not get an appraisal and of those that do a large number do not find it useful.

“We look forward to working with the NMC to move these proposals forward so that they work for midwives and importantly ensure competence and safety to protect the public.”

3:04pm: A member of the group overseeing Downing Street’s drive to supply nurses with IT technology has expressed concern that tight timescales were leading to the exclusion of nurses from the project’s design, HSJ has discovered.

At the session in June, one member, whose identity was redacted, “expressed concern about the tight timetable, especially when it came to securing nursing input into the application and decision-making processes”.

David Cameron announced the launch of the Nursing Technology Fund in October last year, promising a £100m investment in technology to help nurses “spend more time at the bedside”.

A Department of Health timetable document says the two-year project is due to conclude in April 2015 - one month before the general election. However, it has emerged that the project is currently two months behind schedule.

Read the full story by Ben Clover here.

2:20pm: This week’s issue of HSJ magazine is now available to read on our tablet app.

To find the latest issue, simply navigate to “This week’s issue” on the app, or tap on the cover image on the homepage.

HSJ’s tablet app is free to download for both iPad and Android devices. iPad users can download it directly here, Android users will need to download it from the Google Play store.

1:50pm: The Foundation Trust Network is seeking to recruit a high profile, paid non-executive chair for the first time, it has emerged.

An advert for the £55k role says: “This new chair will lead the board in shaping the FTN’s strategy, including its plans for growth and supporting its members through the challenges they face. This individual will also have an influential external representational role, along with the chief executive.”

12:19pm: Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said abortion on the grounds of gender selection are “against the law and completely unacceptable”.

He has written to attorney general Dominic Grieve for “urgent clarification” on why two doctors accused of arranging abortions based on the sex of an unborn baby will not face prosecution.

The Crown Prosecution Service decided that although there was enough evidence to justify a prosecution it would not be in the public interest. Jenny Hopkins, the deputy chief crown prosecutor for CPS London, said the fact that the abortions had not actually taken place influenced the decision not to proceed with a prosecution.

An undercover investigation by the Daily Telegraph involved secretly filming doctors at British clinics agreeing to terminate foetuses because they were either male or female.

11:50am: The government has issued a warning to hospital trusts that use short-term contracts to avoid paying tax.

Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has reportedly penned a letter to the Recruitment and Employers Confederation stating that trusts should either employ temporary locum doctors like normal staff or pay VAT on the cost of hiring them.

Up to 30 trusts in England are thought to be using new forms of short-term contracts on which tax is not payable. These are used instead of the traditional agency model, which sees locum agencies charge the hospital a fee plus VAT.

11:02am: The Royal College of Physicians has appointed Patricia Wright to the post of chief executive. 

Ms Wright, who is currently chief executive of Queen Elizabeth Hospital Kings Lynn NHS Trust, is a senior healthcare specialist with 32 years in healthcare.

She said: “I am delighted to have been appointed to such a prestigious role and look forward to managing the Royal College of Physicians at a very exciting time in its history.”

Ms Wright began her career as a pharmacist and worked in both the hospital service and within primary care. She was co-editor of ‘The Cytotoxic Handbook’ and founder member of the British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN). In 2001 she moved into general management and has extensive experience of working at senior level across health and social care, most recently as the Chief Executive of a Primary Care Trust and currently a Foundation Trust.

RCP president Sir Richard Thompson, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Patricia Wright to our CEO post.  She brings useful and practical knowledge of the NHS, which will be of great benefit to the RCP.”

Ms Wright takes over from Martin Else, who has been RCP’s chief executive since 2005.

10:40am: NHS England has acknowledged concerns raised about services at some of the 22 practices in Liverpool and Sefton which were taken over by a GP-led company in the spring, HSJ’s Dave West reports.

The national commissioning organisation said it was “working together” with SSP Health “to resolve matters as quickly as possible”.

The company, which is run by a husband and wife who are GPs in Greater Manchester, won a contract to run the practices in November. It took them over in March and April.

HSJ understands several patients have raised concerns with SSP and with commissioners, and that several GPs have quit the practices since the takeover.

10:18am: Nursing and Midwifery Council will vote on proposals for the revalidation of the profession in the wake of the Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

At a meeting next week, NMC council members are due to debate a range of options that include continuing with the current post-registration education and practice (PREP) system as it is or introducing more checks.

Other proposals include nurses and midwives collecting positive feedback from patients and colleagues every three years in order to remain on the register. Read the entire story here.

10:06am: In an exclusive interview with HSJ’s Sarah Calkin, Stephen Thornton, the outgoing chief executive of the Health Foundation, has said that the current leadership of the NHS should take “complete” responsibility for the culture of fear that led to the care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

He criticised the “Stalinist mindset” of NHS management over the past decade and called for NHS England’s next chief executive to be prepared to lead major reform.

Mr Thornton is retiring at the end of the month after 12 years at the quality improvement charity and a career which has also included more than 20 years in health service leadership.

8.50am: Good morning, following the Francis report, the Department of Health’s referred to “swift action” and “epic changes to care laws”.

The Care Bill was introduced to the House of Lords in May and is currently at committee stage. It will implement part of the government’s response to the Francis inquiry, namely the single failure regime, which will allow the suspension of the board to be triggered by failures in care, as well as finance. Jill Mason and Darryn Hale digest the bill in a bite sized guide on HSJ’s commissioning channel today.